cover image If I Had One Wish--

If I Had One Wish--

Jackie French Koller. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (161pp) ISBN 978-0-316-50150-7

Self-pitying Alec is struggling through eighth grade, plagued by six-year-old brother Stevie and unable to measure up to older sister Kelly. After being kind to an old woman, Alec is granted one wish; at the same time he gets grounded for not looking after Stevie. So Alec wishes his brother had never been born. He immediately regrets this, as he discovers not only that he misses Stevie, but that his wish has wider consequences. Alec's parents become less caring, more materialistic and more involved in their careers, and thus the wish is fulfilled by their decision to not have another child. The boy's mother, in particular, now a hustling lawyer, changes for the worse. Alec learns a lesson and manages to undo his wish. Readers will wish a potentially interesting look at sibling conflict had not been cut off by Koller's apparent desire to didactically champion traditional values and sex roles. The generic characters and simplistic handling of a complex problem will disappoint even those who share her views. Ages 9-13. (Nov.)